Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Greetings from NaNo Land

Music Influence: Waterhaul/Waterhaul II by 36 Crazyfists

(Waterhaul, A Snow Capped Romance, 2004)

(Waterhaul II, Collisions and Castaways, 2011)



Today is the last day of National November Writing Month. There are thousands of people out there right now pounding their fingers over the worn out plastic keys of their keyboard furiously trying to hit to fifty thousand by 11:59 PM tonight.


I won't be one of them.


Over the weekend, I completed my NaNo journey limping across the finish line at just over 51,000 words. By no means is this novel complete. Only my NaNo journey of 2011 is complete. For another year I am one of the many who warred with themselves to write 50k in 30 days. For another year I am a NaNo winner.


It wasn't easy. I have about six different beginnings. I have a bunch of stuff I just wrote to be sitting at the computer, putting words down about something- anything- in order to keep on track with the daily word count. On the weekends I spent countless hours staring at the blinking cursor on my blank page trying to come up with anything to keep going.


I was plagued by doubts, mistrusting of my writing instinct, confused by my lack of direction.


But NaNo is not the time to second guess yourself. You just have to push through it. Work through the problems at a later date. Write whatever comes to mind, regardless of how it actually fits into the story. When you get stuck, move to a different scene. These are my mantras. Keep moving. In this instances, it is one finger after another. Keeping pounding away at the keyboard. Stop doubting yourself. Put all of your mixed emotions into the writing. Pour everything out on the page. Just don't stop whatever you're doing.


Hellie talked about goals on Monday. Goals are great. NaNo is a monthly goal. Every November I pledge to write 50k in 30 days. I aspire to write 20k every month outside of November. That's 5k a week. Doable for someone like me who does most of their writing on Saturday night/Sunday morning. What keeps you going when everything seems to be heading down the drain? Do you give yourself incentives to achieve your goals? What gets you sitting in front of your monitor with your fingers on the keyboard?
Sunday, November 27, 2011

Because It Works

If you guys ate anything like I did over the holiday weekend, you’re probably still in a carb-overload. (I do like me some green bean casserole.) In fact, every time I carbed up, I immediately went into my natural state: reclining on the couch, watching a Twilight movie. I read three books. I sewed some quilt blocks (it’s cold enough to go back to that little project again.) I perused a Jo-Ann’s ad just so I could taunt Deerhunter about it. (Oh, I’ll be coming home with more fabric soon, just wait.)


But the indolence must come to an end. This is the time of year people like to join weight loss plans because they want to get a head start on the New Year. You’d be amazed how much weight you can lose this time of year if you put your mind to it, and don’t do what I did this weekend. It just requires a little planning, a little discipline, and a little faith. Honestly it doesn’t even take a whole lot of any of these three things. I find that once you get started on such a weight loss plan and you see it’s working, it manifests itself: you’re more inspired and you throw yourself into it even more. If at any point you fall off the wagon (so to speak), you still look at how far you’ve come and you’re more willing to dust yourself off and get going again.


Weight Watcher's current motto is: Because it works. And it does. It just requires some modest commitment every day and eventually you'll see the payoff. Writing is the same way. It's hard to see the end when you know you need 400 pages and if you're like me, you delete 5 pages for every 7 you write. Still, it's progress. It's a journey, not a sprint. You need to be going; you don't necessarily have to be going in a straight line. I find once you get the hang of doing it everyday, you're more apt to go in straighter lines anyway, like riding a bicycle.


It’s really like that Newton’s law of motion thing. An object at rest stays at rest; an object in motion stays in motion. You don’t have to be going fast. You just need to be going.


Bo’sun reminded us last week that writing is fun. And that we should stop worrying so much and just do it. Now I’m suggesting we get started sooner than 2012 and start now. We’re going to be surprised by how much we can do in four weeks.


Bo’sun gave us the BIG GOAL for the year. The craft book I read this week—a refresher in the obvious—talked about breaking down your big goal into smaller ones. Like you would with weight loss. You want to lose 100 pounds, but that’s too much and too demoralizing. So you say you want to lose 5% of your weight, and you commit to a plan of exercise, portion control, and more veggies. Smaller goals turn into big goals.


I am all about Bo’sun’s Big Goal, but I need to break it down to a 5% goal right now. Something easy to commit to, something easy to see the change, something that can be turned into a habit. Breaking a bad habit takes 21 days. I’ve got a month before the New Year, to lay the new habits I’ll need to make 2012 the success I want it to be. To make that happen, the first rule of every writer is to write every day. Rain or shine. Muse or museless.


So for my 5%, I’m writing everyday for 30 days. So anyone with me? If you’re not writing anything new, do you want to commit to editing so many pages a day or sending out so many queries or submitting to so many contests?
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Poke the structure with a stick

You pirates have dirty minds, you know that? Just because I said we're going to poke things with sticks today . . . geez! I know it's the day before a holiday, and I hope you're off work and starting your celebrations early!

Since today will be a slow day, I have an exercise for us. (Yes, I can hear all you pirates groaning and bitching about overtime, but on Monday, we all acted enthusiastic. So buck up!) 

I've been reading (yet another) book on revisions. And I came across some great advice that has been a useful little trick for me.  And that is, poke your structure with a stick and see what happens. You know when you poke a snake? You find out pretty quick if it's alive or dead. Either something happens, or nothing happens. But either way, you KNOW if that snake is alive.

So today, I'd like to talk about two stick-poking exercises, and see if you guys want to try one, and see if it works.

First is a cause-and-effect experiment. Think of a character (secondary might be easier if you don't have the WIP in front of you) and list out the actions in order. Not necessarily the scenes or whole plot, just the actions.

For example - this is for a secondary character in my WIP:
1. Ahmad travels to Belfast to purchase black-market weapons from Kersey, and brings Naomi along as his negotiator.

2. Ahmad receives a picture, showing him that Naomi is undercover British intelligence

3. Ahmad kidnaps Naomi's daughter

4. Ahmad holds Naomi captive

5. Ahmad gives Naomi's daughter to Kersey,  to prove that he's serious about the weapons

6. Ahmad gives Naomi to Kersey for 12 hours, with instructions to use the time wisely to work out a deal for the weapons, or lose daughter forever

7. Ahmad watches Naomi die, realizes he now cannot get the weapons, and leaves

8. Ahmad sees Naomi's picture on TV and realizes he's been played

9. Ahmad returns and attempts to kill Naomi

Note that the cause-and-effect linkage here. Every action is clearly linked back to the action above it, and the linkage itself shows motivation, and cause and effect. This tells me something: that the motivation is clear, and I could probably pull out some of my meandering scenes of them deciding what to do, because from this, the next step is obvious.(Except the link between 4-5-6. That might need much more clarity).

It also tells me something else: I have a lot of passive verbs here. Ahmad receives,  Ahmad sees, etc. Ahmad isn't all that active. All he really does is kidnap the little girl, and that happens off screen. Though the scene with him holding Naomi captive is nice and disturbing. So this tells me I might want to adjust so that Ahmad is doing more, and reacting less.

In other words, I poked the structure, and it is in fact alive, and perhaps needing only slight first aid.

Here's the second tactic for poking your structure with a stick:

Draw a circle and include all your character names:

Got it?

Okay, now draw lines for every relationship between your characters:

Mine won't make much sense to you, unless you know the characters. But what you can see from this circle is that some characters have lines going all over the place, and some characters are only tangentially connected. There's room there, to make sure every possible connection that could be made has been made.

Are there any other relationships you hadn't thought of? Any past or secret relationships between characters?

Are there any characters who don't have a line? Anyone just hanging out on the fringes?

Any characters that are static? Notice I have "young soldiers" and "other cops" on my list. They're necessary to the plot, but they aren't very interesting. Could I have another character who's more flushed out fill that role? Could I flush out "young soldiers" better? Could I connect those young soldiers to additional characters?

Willing to give one of these a shot? Try doing a character circle on paper and tell us what you got. Or list out the actions of a character and see how the cause-and-effect looks, and what that tells you about the plot. Basically, when you poke your structure with a stick, is it alive or dead? (and if you do so while wearing a bicycle helmet like the guy in the picture above, tell us that too :)
Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Revelation via Twitter

I know not everyone on this ship Tweets, but I do. Twitter is the modern day news ticker. The London riots? Heard about them first on Twitter. The Occupy Wall Street stuff? Yep, Twitter again. It's instant. Unfiltered. No delay. No waiting for some media outlet to shove the facts through their spin cycle and regurgitate their interpretation of events.

Twitter is NOW.

It's also a direct connection to industry professionals as well as fellow writers, and downright entertaining. But what it's been lately is a wakeup call.

This is the nugget of truth that hit me last week, thanks to Twitter. I'd say sit down before reading further but doubt this will come as a shock to anyone.

You ready? Here we go.

The only difference between every published writer and me (or anyone not yet published) is that the published writers write.

I know. Earth shattering, isn't it? Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of published authors with more talent than I. But there are some published authors with less. Regardless, their perseverance and determination is what makes the difference.

No "I didn't get around to writing this month." No "I wanted to write but Idol was on." Not even an "I had the laptop open but then I had to fold the clothes." If you're like me ,you've used all of these excuses and countless others.

On Twitter, writers push each other with sprints (#1k1hr), squeeze out one more page in that fifteen minutes before the kids get home, and often "go dark" when a deadline is looming. No matter what, they write.

I realize it's a bit early for resolutions (and at the reading of that word you have all jumped overboard), but I'm going to make one. 2012 will be the year of no excuses. Will life attempt to get in our way? You betcha. Will we let it? Absolutely not!

But let's be honest. Life isn't what gets in our way. WE get in our way. In 2012 (or starting now, that's even better) we get out of our own way and put words on the page. I don't care what they are.

Need a smaller challenge with quicker results to get that feeling of accomplishment? Write a short story. Entangled Publishing is starting a short story line called FLIRT and open to submissions of 10K-15K words. I dusted off an old story and sent it in last week. Worst they can do is say no.

Tired of writing the same old stuff? Fine. Write a memoir. Or a cookbook. Hell, write a manifesto. Just write. We set only two goals. (I know, another nasty word, but hang with me.)

Make writing a habit and make sure it's fun. Not easy, but fun. What say you?!
Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sometimes You Never Know


I like leaving things hanging a bit in my writing. I suppose because in RL, I don’t worry too much anymore about the drive to understand every why of every action that impacts my life…I don’t so much subscribe to the old “Shit Happens” bumpersticker. I’m not that cynical. I used to say “Magic Happens” but I’ve grown up a bit less mystical. (Not that I don’t disbelieve, in the long run, that all of it isn’t magic. (Hee, hee, triple negative!) Just takes time and distance to discover what that spell was.)


But I do know that, well…stuff happens. And in RL you don’t always know why. Hell, sometimes you don’t even know how!

But that is RL. Now, with books…it’s tricky to have things just happen to characters without some closure. I mean, one can leave some things hanging, but not the big things. I mean, if the husband leaving the wife and family is a central plot point in the book, I suppose an author better deal with it to some extent. (I might not, but that is me.) (Twisted.)

If the question is why did she drink so much at the party and then dance with that guy she hated…well, that might be important, it might not. The dancing with the guy is the important part, right? Not the why did she get drunk in the first place. I mean, I’d be asking does she really hate him? Why did he ask her? Does it matter with what happens next? (And yes, I might include it even if it didn’t relate directly to what happens next…because it might communicate something about her. Or him.)

Now, I tend to leave threads hanging in my books. Sometimes, it’s because I forgot they were there.

Guilty as charged.

Sometimes, it’s because I’m leaving things for the next book.


Sometimes, well, I’m making a point. Not knowing and dealing with the not knowing is an important life lesson for a character to learn.

Randomness happens, ya know!?

I don’t think I would shy away from leaving most anything unanswered, if I decided I had a reason for it. I’m a bit stubborn with that.

For example, in my books, I keep being asked to tell the story in detail of Davis, the werewolf. And I shrug. Could be I don’t know his story yet… Sometimes it’s a mystery and that’s why questions are unanswered. I’ve insinuated that he’s important to the pack on Tortuga, but never gone into the details. But I’d dangled…why is he important?

Sometimes you don’t know!


During the editing of book three, my editor wanted me use the term undead in place of vampire. And I said, “No. I haven’t decided if the vampires are undead yet.” Hey, sometimes I’m learning the story as I go and this is something I haven’t quite figured out yet about the vampires of the Kraken’s Caribbean.

I left a big thread hanging after the third book with a new character, Lee. And my editor, when I said I was thinking of a short for Lee, e-mailed me back, practically screaming, “YES!” at the top of her lungs. She hadn’t asked about it, but it was obviously on her mind.

Nice to make her so happy!

What do you think is unforgivable when it comes to dangling threads? To not answering the big WHY question? Have you done it? And do you know why?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Getting Ready to Write

There is preparation involved in most jobs.

We get to the job site, we clock in, chat with our co-workers to find out what's new since the last time we saw them. Maybe we grab another cup of coffee while we read the latest "rules/guidelines/policies/procedures/protocol" from the higher-ups. Then, after we're warmed up, we tackle the job, whether we're ready or not.

There's a similar process for writing.

"Getting ready to write" involves cerebral preparation, a girding of the mental loins. It requires switching from the real world to the make-believe one. You have to get yourself ready to battle the inner critic, or to dig deep for the character's motivations, or even to figure out where the heck the story is supposed to go next.

While "getting ready to write" sounds like a whole bunch of fancy schmancy procrastination, it's actually a vital part of the writing process.

I mean, who can write when their desk is filled with clutter, even if it's been there since Miami Vice was a hit TV show? Everyone knows it's next to impossible to stay focused on a story when the dust bunnies are making so much noise racing across the carpet. I can't even hope to concentrate on word count when I know there's a sock that's gone AWOL from the laundry basket. I've got to find that poor lost soul, so I can witness the heartwarming moment when it is once more reunited with its mate.

Finally, when all the prep work is completed, and the conditions are exactly right for writing. . .the day has vanished, right along with our high hopes and good intentions.

So how do we keep from getting stuck in the "getting ready to write" phase?

I'm not claiming to be an expert, but these are some things that have worked for me:

1. Sit down and write something -- anything -- before you check email/Facebook/Twitter. All of these things are important, and need your attention, and will advance your writing career at some point. But do they really deserve to be higher in the hierarchy than your writing? If these social media tools can survive without you looking at them while you were asleep for a whole night, surely they can wait another 15-30 minutes while you rev up your writing brain.

2. Laugh loudly when you try to convince yourself some chore needs to be taken care of first. All of us are first-class avoiders. We instantly recognize an avoidance scheme when we hear one. So why do we continue to try to fool ourselves this way? Okay, we do it because it's usually successful. But it's time to reconsider this behavior. When we say, completely straight-faced, "I know I can write better if I alphabetize all my lip glosses first", we need to respond with, "Readers are waiting on this story, and they don't care if Pirate Plum is filed next to Walk-the-Plank Watermelon."

3. Set a time limit. This sounds easy, but it's not, because if there's anything a getting-ready-to writer is good at, it's bargaining. "I'll just play one more game of solitaire. . .okay, just until 10:30. . . I mean 12:30. Okay, definitely after lunch." Give yourself an iron-clad, non-negotiable amount of time to goof off get ready, and then when it's done, write. If it helps to motivate you, think about your characters weeping and wailing because of your constant abandonment. Imagine them staring at the bestseller lists, muttering, "We coulda been a contender", right before they turn their accusing eyes your direction.

We're writers. We write. That should always be the reason for any and all "getting ready to" activities.

After all, what's the point of preparing if we never get the words into a written form?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Picking a Fight

I was playing on Facebook when I clicked on the funniest quote by Stephen King: “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.


It’s funny not because it’s right (though I think it is), but because 1.) Good Old Steve didn’t say this* (he just said Meyers wasn’t a very good writer, especially compared to Rowling—which can be forgiven if you consider Mark Twain said Jane Austen couldn’t write and shouldn’t have); 2.) Readers got really pissed off about it. How dare Steve say this? Just exactly how deep was his work anyway.


I have no idea, of course; I don’t read his stuff. (I read very little horror fiction.) But I would believe that Steve finds theme extremely important in fiction. It was one of the first principal things I remember learning about writing in school. We had to decide on a theme we wanted to write about, and then we crafted our story accordingly. It’s not important to just want to write; what matters more is do you have something to say?


It’s around this area of this sort of discussion that sides begin to form and we get the “I read exclusively for escapism and not for theme” and the “stories only about the relationship but no real story are dumb” camps. I, of course, agree with both. I do read for escapism; I do want to read something that takes me away from the daily tedious grind and concentrate on something else entirely. And I don’t start off reading the book, looking for the point of this story—I’m just reading because the characters are interesting. Yes, the kind of books that are all about the relationship, but have no character growth beyond bagging Mr. or Mrs. Right are forgettable. I’m still happy for them; I wondered if it was going to work out; but I didn’t learn anything from them. I still expect my brain candy to have some nutrients in it. If I wanted to escape into something with no point, I’d watch TV. It’s just as relaxing.


Of course, I think focusing on theme can sometimes get complicated because if you’re focused so much on having a great theme, you end up never writing because your theme isn’t great enough. And that’s no good. I think the theme derives from the character’s arc, the GMC. Theme is one of those aspects you refine and discover as you’re writing. What does your character really want? What does your character most fear? Theme tends to be more universal because our wants and fears tend to be more universal.


Let’s circle back to Meyers. I wouldn’t say she’s completely without theme. Her writing is definitely not on par with Rowling, but she is a compelling read, in my opinion. Her ability to draw me completely into the world of the whineiest teenage girl I’ve ever read and make me care about the story’s outcome was a true feat. Kudos to her.


I believe if you asked Meyers what the theme was for her books, she’d have an answer. I’m sure if you found enough readers, they’d give you an answer what the themes were in the series. Like, “You don’t get to pick who you fall in love with” and “Love is about accepting all parts of a person, even the dark parts.” There’s probably some themes about family, what constitutes a family, and can men and women be friends. Maybe the biggest: love has no age boundaries. Edward is 100+ and Bella is 17. Then there is imprinting—that’s definitely a thematic bomb in what constitutes love and how young is too young.


So I think we could agree the themes were there. The question may be: how well were the themes executed? There’s the whole “action is louder than words” problem. If your character says or thinks one way, but acts in the opposite manner—you run the chance of losing your audience. It’s a sign of a weak character to me. (Characters who say or think one way in the beginning of a book and then act the opposite at the end of a story is different—that’s a character arc. I mean, doing it within the same paragraph.) I think Bella came off as a weaker character because she cared far more about keeping Edward than she cared about having any sense of self. And she was the heroine. It was like she gave away her rights completely. Love is about finding the balance in the chaos.


I believe in the beginning, I have a theme in mind (however grainy it may be at first) that is the undercurrent to the characters. How can my characters show this theme? Can I make it ironic or poignant or funny? And as time goes on, I get a better grip on my theme and my characters. Theme is another of the things to go back over when you’re done to make sure you’ve kept to it throughout; that you haven’t run contradictory to the promise you made to your readers in the beginning.


Do you notice theme in the stories you read? Are there certain themes you look for in novels that you prefer and tend to remember better than others? Do you write the same theme over and over in my manuscripts, or do they change a little? (I think mine change some. My core story is basically the same, but the themes differ a bit from book to book.) Did you read Twilight? What themes did you find? The movie is out Friday--are you going to see it?


*So who did say this quotation? According to my googling sources, it says Andrew Futral did. Either way, I still think it’s hysterical.
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Broken VS Flawed

When the Revenge hosted the dear Anna Campbell a few months back, she asked about standard devices we as writers are fond a’ using. And I replied that me heroines are generally broken, but don’t know it.

And this got me thinking about what it means to be broken. And why is it the hero gets to be flawed, but I think a’ the heroine as broken. I’m not sure if this says somethin’ about me or about the concepts in general.

Aye, me heroines are broken. And generally they are managing just fine ta survive and even ta thrive. But they be broken, nevertheless. Sometimes it be emotionally. OK, usually it be emotionally. Though I’ve written a few with physical difficulties that…ok, generally cause emotionally areas a’ breakage. Damn it.

When you really think about it, what is worse, being flawed or being broken? I know when I used to shop for fabric with my mother, flawed fabric isn’t something that can be mended or fixed. It can be cut around, it can be incorporated into the pattern, but you can’t really mend it. When broken…say, you need two yards and all there is 1.5 yards…well, you’re just screwed and have to find another fabric. Or another project if you really, really like it.

But a flaw? I like flawed fabric, a dye job that ran or weaving that fractured can be worked into a project. Which, when thinking about a hero is sorta funny. Women seem ta adore the idea a’ working around a flaw, even making a flaw a key bit of magic when it comes to a character.

Men? They want ta fix things…mend them. Honestly, sit down with a guy and talk about something that is bothering ya and generally they’ll come up with all sorts a’ ways ta fix it. They won’t really work around a break, they want ta fix it. Even flawed heroes want ta fix (mend) things.

Now, with women who are broken, we are more likely to work with what we have. Hence the fabric metaphor. We change projects, we add a border of a different fabric.

So, to sum…a guy will toss the break or fix it. A woman will diddle with the flawed and work with it. (Yes, I said diddle. Get yer mind outta the gutter!)

Okay, realizing not everyone understand what a flawed bit of fabric is, though I sorta explained above…oftimes, the end of a bolt of fabric will be flawed. Usually because of a dye problem. Sometimes, it happens within the bolt (of fabric.) Likely something fell into the vat or the mechanical process was interrupted… You can end up with some pretty interesting things as a result of flaws. In The Kraken’s Mirror, Emily adores the bit of flawed silk she pulls out of the ship the Quill raids. And with Alan’s help, she ends up with a show-stopping gown for the pirate ball.

He sorta ‘fixes’ the flaw by stealing her fabric, just enough for a skirt, and incorporating it into an entire outfit. He’s a fixer.

Now that I’ve wandered off course, let me see if I can pull this back so I actually reach anchorage…

Are flawed and broken the same to you? Do you agree with me that the two words carry subtle differences and tend to be divided by gender? Or is this just me prejudice coming through?

Though I find myself thinking me heroines aren’t always broken, but they are bent…(outta the gutter!) Maybe broken means something different to me. Like ‘breaking’ a tomato just means it might not make a sandwich, but damned good sauce. Or if you toss it into the compost, it makes more tomatoes…

It’s Friday, I’m fried…maybe very, very broken.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Picture is Worth... Well, it's Worth it's Own Story

I'm gearing up to revise and edit.  Yet I can't seem to find the motivation.  I think about all I have to do and suddenly I have to clip my fingernails.  Or wash my windows.  Or scrub out the funk that grows in  the bottom of the refrigerator.  (Is it only my fridge that grows that funk?  Don't answer that.)

What I think I need is a creative jumpstart.  So I thought we could have some fun today.

I think we've done this exercise before but it's a good one and is worth repeating.  Below I've posted a few paintings.  Choose one and write a bit about it.  You can write about what you think is happening in the painting or you can write about what you think happened before or after the scene depicted.

And let's talk about getting our creative juices going, folks.   What exercises work for you to get your brain thinking about writing?  Editing is much different than writing.  How do you make the jump from the very creative act of writing to the very detail oriented act of editing?

Here are the paintings:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

These Are Romance Novels...And We Do

Quick update. I FINISHED MY ROUGH DRAFT!!! Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog.

The idea for this song parody popped into my head a while ago and I finally got around to writing it. This is my version of a Romance readers battle cry. I think many will relate.

With inspiration from (and apologies to) Brad Paisley (click here for the original in case you don’t know the tune. What he says in the beginning pertains to Romance fans as well.) I give you…


You’re not supposed to say

The words ‘I love you’ in a book

And tellin’ folks that romance is the answer

Can make ‘em hide their Nook


It ain’t hip to write about kissing, fondling

Going down and hummers

Yeah that might be true

But these are romance novels and we do


Well if you like to read a good book

In the bathtub and have a little wine

Do you wanna ride a carriage across England

But can’t travel back in time?


Do you wish somebody had the nerve

To tell that stupid ex of yours

To shove it next time he calls for you

Well, these are romance novels, and we do


So turn the page, read along, and ignore the looks

This is real, this is your life, in a book

We promise you’ll be hooked

Yeah these are romance novels


Are you tired of the echo of the haters

Saying sex is bad

Scoffing at the hero on the cover

With six-pack abs


Well if there’s anyone who still

Believes In love and hope and longs for Happy

Endings where two hearts can be true

These are romance novels, and we do


So turn the page, read along, and ignore the looks

This is real, this is your life, in a book

We promise you’ll be hooked

Yeah these are romance novels


(These are romance novels)

Ain’t She Sweet

(These are romance novels)

Lord of Scoundrels

(These are romance novels)

Welcome To Temptation

(These are romance novels)

Ashes In The Wind

(These are romance novels)

Stand by Your Hitman

(These are romance novels)

The Kraken's Mirror

(These are romance novels)


Everybody now...add your own verse.
Thursday, November 3, 2011


So, I sent off my third book for the final polish this week. The third of the Kraken’s Caribbean series, The Pirate Circus is basically out of my hands. I get one more look at it, checking for typos and the like…but for the most part…she’s free now.

Wow. What a year. Six books. Three novels, three shorts. All out there, floundering, swimming, sinking, sailing… I have no idea what will 2012 will bring. My agent has two novels in submission and we’re gonna talk next week about the numerous projects I have on my laptop at present. (Reminds me, I need to back up…)

Autumn always has me reflecting on things. It’s a gathering/harvest sort of time of the year for me. (Anything to avoid contemplating the next two months of holiday frenzy. Run away! Run away!)

Last month, at my ICD support group – interior cardio defibrillator, my personal little EMT battery powered pack in my chest… The coordinator asked all of us if we think about the anniversary of the incident that saw us with our little device.

Most don’t. I do.

Consider… 2007, April. I was doing okay. I wasn’t in the best shape mentally. I was doing really good with Weight Watchers, but there was a lot of family stuff that made life a bit harsh. Dad was failing (he passed a few months later), Sister, Last Chance, and I were on the outs in a big way… Husband’s job was looking dicey.

Then I tried to die. April 22, 2007. Changed my life.

Flash forward to April 22, 2008. I remember sitting in the hotel room in Pittsburgh, looking out at a sparkling city, having arrived at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. I was getting ready to go downstairs and meet the other aspiring authors. My first convention, my first acknowledgement of wanting to be published. (It was hard to keep my hand away from my left shoulder, where I could feel my ICD, ready for me if I needed it.)

Next April 22, 2009. Orlando…RT again. I pitched to agents and editors. Got requests, too! (Still knew my ICD was there, but not so sensitive about it.)

April 22, 2010. Columbus…RT was over, I was on the way home. I’d pitched again…and one of those pitches was to Saritza Hernandez, who would offer me representation a few months later. (Wandered around Columbus not paying attention to my scar.)

April 22, 2011. Los Angeles, RT. I was signing postcards for my e-books. The next day, signing the print editions of The Kraken’s Mirror. (If asked about the scar, just told my story.)

April 22, 2012? RT will be in Chicago and early that year…I’ll be home after another convention by the 22nd, probably still unpacking and trying to figure out where to put all the stuff I brought home.

What a wild last few years!

It’s autumn, six months from my April anniversary, but this is the time of the year for thoughtful reflection. April is crazy for me, I barely think about anything but RT on this month! I think about who I am and how far I’ve come in Autumn.

We all have those dates. The dates that live in infamy…but they aren’t always a pivot point for failure. Even those that frighten us the most can, in the end, be our biggest rocket fuel. The death of a loved one, the birth of a child…the day we found out we had cancer…or are clear of cancer. They can carry equal weight. Though we tend as a society to dwell more on the dark moments.

But like what we write, those dark moments are necessary to illuminate the bright and are often the substantial kick in the ass our characters need to get their acts together and live.

It worked that way for me. Though I never wish such a drastic boot in the ass for anyone!

Really, pay attention and learn from the slap on the cheek, not the gun in the gut! Let the almighty, the great guru, whatever you believe in, communicate with the cheek tap…not the boot in the butt. Listen! Trust me, it’s easier to just listen and pay attention to the small stuff then to get the stuffing kicked out of you!

So! What is your date? Or the date of your character if you don’t want to share too much…

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chaos Rules the World

At least it does for the month of November.

My Influence: “I will wander until the end of time... torn away from you.” My Heart is Broken, Evanescence, 2011


National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) started YESTERDAY! I've been solely focused on preparing for the onslaught of the word war for the past month.


I didn't say I got anywhere with it. I just said I was prepping for it.


In my haste to get a blog prepared (I temporarily forgot even after I told Hellion this weekend that it was my week to blog) I've come up with my top 5.5 ways to procrastinate during the month of November.


Yes, totally different from my top 5 ways to prepare for a successful NaNoWriMo.


 5.   Washing Dishes: Have you ever discovered the one thing you hate to do, you find yourself loving to do when you have something more important to accomplish. I absolutely can't stand washing dishes. I loathe it with a passion. I find myself standing at the sink, gazing out the window into the backyard while daydreaming of a half naked Ranger right after I get home from work. Why, you might ask? Because right after I get home from work I should be AIS (Butt In Seat) with my fingers flying over my newly purchased external keyboard working on covering a blank document page.


But I'm not.


 4.  Working Late: Sometimes I have no choice in the matter. Usually I'm flying out the door the instant I can get out of there. I work late hours anyway. But during the month that I know I have a goal to work towards, my mind and body rebel. I find myself slothing through my usual end of day routines at the office to procrastinate leaving my desk. Hell, I could even take my down time and actually write at work. What would be the fun in that? I mean, c'mon.


3.  Errand Running: Ever leave the last thing you have to do for the day/night and realize you need to run somewhere else? I hate stores after work. I hate them during lunch. And I really hate them on the weekend. Find me during NaNo and you're more than likely to run into me at the grocery store during the peak times I hate.


2.  Spending Quality Time with the Significant Other: I'm not quite sure I have to follow up on this reason. Though, I think my reasoning and yours probably varies quite a bit.


 1.5.  Music Playlists: Because this is really important to my well being. I must have music. And I can use this as a stall tactic simply because I NEED music to spur on my creative muse. And obviously, my music playlists are more important to my sanity than spending several hours listening to my DH make up new words to clever songs he's heard on the radio. (See Procrastination number 2.)


And my number one top and favorite way to procrastinate:


1.  Kindle: This tiny little electronic device that allows me to read books and fan fiction with just a click of a button. The Kindle is the ultimate procrastination DEMON.


Now, I want to know the top way you procrastinate. Tell me how you do it and how you get around it.


P.S. Good luck to you all participating in NaNo or your own personal version of NaNo!